City recreation receives praise in budget talks

In under two years, the city Recreation Department has outperformed expectations, according to several on City Council during a budget work session.

Jessie Novinger, department director, was lauded Wednesday at the meeting for her management of the department, specifically meeting budgets and adding technology and programs.

“She’s (Novinger) done better with staffing at the pool and has run the department more efficiently and is doing well with marketing and advertising bringing income in to support programs,” Councilman Randall J. Allison said.

Novinger’s proposed annual salary is $46,125. The department has a part-time assistant with a salary of $7,000.

As a full-time worker, Novinger gets $24,300 in health insurance and a $13,500 pension.

Novinger drives her own vehicle, despite getting offered a city one, according to Joseph Pawlak, city fiscal and budget officer.

Novinger said her focus will continue to be on programming. She anticipates purchasing computer technology enabling credit cards to be used to buy pool memberships and for rental fees.

Novinger said a renewed focus should be on the park system in Newberry and a town hall meeting could gauge residents’ wants and needs for that part of the city.

She said the summer programs at Brandon and Memorial parks remain a priority for children in the city and region.

Council indicated various mark-ups will be explained during the first reading of the proposed budget at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with adoption proposed on Dec. 14.